Judge in Dylann Roof Case Has a History of Racist Comments

Read the shocking language in the documents.

Centralized Bond Hearing Court of Charleston, SC/AP


The judge who held the bond hearing for Dylann Roof, the suspect in the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, has a history of making racist comments, according to court documents. The Daily Beast reports that in 2003, Magistrate James B.Gosnell told a black defendant, “There are four kinds of people in this world—black people, white people, red necks, and n—rs.” The comment led to a disciplinary proceeding that was eventually heard by the state Supreme Court in 2005.

During the investigation, according to records from the proceeding, Gosnell argued that his statement was excusable because “he knew the defendant, the defendant’s father, and the defendant’s grandfather,” and that he was merely repeating something he remembered hearing from “a veteran African American sheriff’s deputy.” The document goes on to say:

“Respondent [Gosnell] alleges he repeated this statement to the defendant in an ill-considered effort to encourage him to recognize and change the path he had chosen in life.”

The same proceeding details another ethical pickle that Gosnell found himself in two days after the racist comment, when he allegedly helped get another judge out of jail in a DUI case.

“Respondent [Gosnell] met the arresting officer and Judge Mendelsohn at the detention center. At some point, respondent took possession of the ticket, placed a ‘bond hearing’ stamp on the back, and entered the amount of $1,002.00. When detention center officials expressed concerns over Judge Mendelsohn’s release, respondent remarked ‘this didn’t happen until 8:00 a.m.,’ or words of similar import and effect. Respondent acknowledges it was his intention to facilitate Judge Mendelsohn’s release without waiting for the morning bond hearing and to make it appear that Judge Mendelsohn’s bond was set at 8:00 a.m. in accordance with Mount Pleasant’s bond procedure.”

Gosnell ultimately kept his job when the court concluded that an official reprimand would suffice.

At Friday’s bond hearing, Gosnell won praise for letting members of the victims’ families confront Roof directly. But some were surprised when he made comments about Roof’s family members being victims of the tragedy as well.

Charged with nine counts of murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, Roof is due back in court on October 23. His bail for the weapon charges was set by Gosnell at $1 million, but the judge said he did not have the authority to set bail for murder charges.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate